On Wednesday, January 25, General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, began construction on a fifth ship for the U.S. Navy’s Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD)/Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) program.
Designed to provide advanced flexibility and capability for sea-to-shore missions, the newest ESB will include a 52,000 square-foot/4,831 m2 flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel. Serving as a «pier at sea», the 784-foot-long/239-meter-long ship is also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
The ship, ESB-5, is the fifth to be added to a contract between NASSCO and the U.S. Navy that originally called for two Expeditionary Transfer Docks: USNS Montford Point (T-ESD-1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD-2).
The first two ships, formerly classified as Mobile Landing Platforms (MLPs), were designed and constructed by NASSCO to support vehicle staging and transfers, and the movement of LCAC vessels. In 2012, a third ship, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an ESB, formerly known as a MLP Afloat Forward Staging Base, to support a wide range of military operations. All three ships have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, and in October 2015, NASSCO began construction on ESB-4, USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams.
NASSCO is the largest shipyard on the west coast of the United States conducting design, construction and repair of ships. In the past decade, NASSCO delivered more than 30 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships and several other lead ships.
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division officially started fabrication of the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyer USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) on Wednesday, January 26, 2017. The start of fabrication signifies that the first 100 tons of steel have been cut.
«Starting fabrication on another destroyer is a great way to start the year», Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said. «Ingalls has delivered 29 of these ships to the U.S. Navy, and our hot production line continues to improve the construction process. The ships are tremendous assets to our country’s fleet, and we look forward to delivering another quality destroyer to the Navy».
The ship is named in honor of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, the first woman to receive the Navy Cross. Higbee joined the U.S. Navy in October 1908 as part of the newly established Navy Nurse Corps, a group of women who would become known as «The Sacred Twenty», and became the second superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in January 1911.
USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) is the fourth of five Arleigh Burke-class destroyers HII was awarded in June 2013. The five-ship contract, part of a multi-year procurement in the DDG-51 program, allows Ingalls to build ships more efficiently by buying bulk material and moving the skilled workforce from ship to ship.
With the start of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, Ingalls has five destroyers under construction. USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) will undergo sea trials later this year and is scheduled to be delivered by the end of the year. USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) will be christened on April 8. USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) will launch later this year, and USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121) will lay its keel in the first quarter of this year.
510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline
59 feet/18 m
30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load
9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
SPY-1D Phased Array Radar and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Raytheon completed factory acceptance testing of the flight operations system for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). With seven times the light-collecting power of its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, this next-generation telescope will gather data and images of dust clouds, stars and galaxies deeper into space.
Over 800 requirements were successfully verified on the JWST ground control system during the testing conducted at Raytheon’s Aurora, Colorado, facility, bringing NASA’s next space observatory one step closer to the scheduled 2018 launch.
«The JWST flight operations system is our latest generation of mission management and command and control capabilities for satellite operations», said Matt Gilligan, vice president of Raytheon Navigation and Environmental Solutions. «Our ground control system will download data from space and fly the telescope as it penetrates through cosmic dust to unlock the universe’s secrets like never before».
JWST takes observations in the infrared spectrum to penetrate cosmic dust to reveal the universe’s first galaxies, while observing newly forming planetary systems. JWST is expected to make observations for five years, will carry enough fuel for 10 years, and is designed to withstand impacts of space debris as it orbits far beyond the Earth’s Moon.
Raytheon installed the ground control system for JWST on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, under contract to the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Proposed Launch Date
JWST will be launched in October 2018
Ariane 5 ECA
5 – 10 years
Total payload mass
Approximately 6,200 kg/13,669 lbs, including observatory, on-orbit consumables and launch vehicle adaptor
Diameter of primary Mirror
~6.5 m/21.3 feet
Clear aperture of primary Mirror
25 m2/269 square feet
Primary mirror material
beryllium coated with gold
Mass of primary mirror
705 kg/1,554 lbs
Mass of a single primary mirror segment
20.1 kg/44.3 lbs for a single beryllium mirror, 39.48 kg/87 lbs for one entire Primary Mirror Segment Assembly (PMSA)
131.4 m/431.1 feet
Number of primary mirror segments
0.6 – 28.5 microns
Size of sun shield
21.197 × 14.162 m/69.5 × 46.5 feet
1.5 million km from Earth orbiting the second Lagrange point
under 50 K/-370 °F
Thickness of gold coating = 100 × 10-9 meters (1000 angstroms). Surface area = 25 m2. Using these numbers plus the density of gold at room temperature (19.3 g/cm3), the coating is calculated to use 48.25 g of gold, about equal to a golf ball (A golf ball has a mass of 45.9 grams)
Mid-January 2017 Airbus Defence and Space delivered to NASA a propulsion test module for the Orion programme. The Propulsion Qualification Test Model (PQM) will be used to check that the Orion European Service Module (ESM) spacecraft’s propulsion subsystem functions correctly.
On behalf of the European Space Agency, Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor for the ESM, a key element of NASA’s next generation Orion spacecraft.
Although the PQM will never see space, this is an important step in the development of the Orion programme. Complex systems for human spaceflight must first be tested and qualified on Earth before being used as flight hardware in space. The engineers want to determine how the system behaves in different environments, to ensure that it functions properly.
The test module is travelling via Bremerhaven and Houston/USA to its final destination at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) near Las Cruces in New Mexico/USA. Arrival is expected mid-February. The tests will take place later in the year at WSTF for the qualification of Orion ESM’s propulsion subsystem.
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced today that its Newport News Shipbuilding division lifted a 704-metric ton unit into Dry Dock 12, where the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is taking shape. The superlift is part of an improved build strategy implemented on the second ship of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class, resulting in superlifts erected at a higher state of outfitting completion.
«For Kennedy, increased pre-outfitting puts into practice one of many lessons learned from Gerald R. Ford», said Mike Shawcross, Newport News’ vice president, CVN-79 construction. «This superlift will erect the first portion of hangar bay».
The unit, which has been under construction since August 2015, is made up of 22 smaller units and comprises small equipment and machinery rooms, berthing, and other quality-of-life spaces, such as the barber shop and post office. It measures about 80 feet/24.4 m long and 105 feet/32 m wide. Like Ford, Kennedy is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, equipment is installed, and the large units are lifted into the dry dock using the shipyard’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.
Kennedy is about 25 percent complete. The carrier is on track to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than Ford and 149 less than USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the last Nimitz-class carrier. About 140 lifts have been placed in the dock and joined together since the ship’s keel was laid in August 2015. Kennedy is scheduled to be launched in 2020 and deliver to the Navy in 2022, when it will replace USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
A fleet of 20 AH-64 Apache aircraft from the 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division in Fort Bliss, Texas landed at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) last week to prepare for their February deployment to Europe.
The 1-501st, also known as the Iron Dragon Battalion, will deploy this February for a nine-month rotation in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. «We’re moving aircraft to Corpus Christi to put them on a ship to deploy to Europe», said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Crotzer, 1-501st commander.
«Supporting units like this sends a clear message to the rest of the Army that CCAD is willing to aid whenever we can to support the Warfighter and the overall mission», said Major Nathan Patrick, the depot commander’s executive officer.
Major Patrick handles military-aviation-related matters at the Depot, including coordination with other military entities. He worked out the details of the 1-501st arrival and parking plan along the sea wall, even including a maintenance bay for their use, to ensure the 1-501st a smooth and effortless transition to the Port of Corpus Christi.
Though CCAD was ready and set to assist the deployment, this depot is not a normal pit stop for active battalions. Through the Army Working Capital Fund, CCAD operates as an industrial facility specializing in helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul under the US Aviation and Missile Command. The Depot is renowned for its helicopter reset and modernization capabilities, prolonging the life-cycle of some of Army’s most-trusted rotary wing aircraft.
«It will take several days to load the aircraft on the ship across town at the Port of Corpus Christi», said CW3 David Staruch, of the 1-501st. «We can only load a few Apaches at a time and have to remove the rotor blades and prep them for travel. There’s no heliport. It’s just a big massive ship».
The original plan was for the 1-501st to ferry aircraft to the Port of Corpus Christi over the course of three days. The Port of Corpus Christi is one of the few ports in the Gulf of Mexico that can sustain a boat large enough to carry 20 helicopters safely across the Atlantic.
As luck, would have it, high winds delayed the 1-501st move to the Port by a day, but it did little to slow down the Iron Dragon Battalion. Even with the loss of a day, the 1-501st was able to load all aircraft within the original three-day timeframe.
Through the cooperative efforts of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Chief of Naval Air Training and CCAD, the 1-501st and their helicopters safely assembled at CCAD and continued to the port safely, demonstrating the synergy it takes to put global readiness and regional responsiveness in action.
«It’s real easy working with the folks at CCAD. And the Navy and flight test folks have been fantastic. They’ve been helping us every day», said Lieutenant Colonel Crotzer.
According to Fort Bliss’s January tenth press release, approximately 400 Soldiers and 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 1-501st will augment the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, New York, which is the first aviation brigade to support OAR under the Regionally Aligned Force concept.
These Soldiers will support aviation operations throughout Europe to improve interoperability and strengthen relationships with Allies and partner nations. «We’ll get great training with the forces and get them comfortable working with us», said Lieutenant Colonel Crotzer.
The AH-64 Apache is the Army’s attack aviation asset used for close combat attack. «We train with the Apache all the time and with our ground units to gain proficiency», said Staruch. «We feel ready for the task at hand».
The battalion trained hard for the past year at the National Training Center and through other standard exercises. «Now we are going to Europe to train with the Allied Nations to do the same with them», he said.
This training deployment will not only enhance US and European relations, it will add readiness to the US Army aviation’s attack reconnaissance battalion.
The Attack Reconnaissance Battalion self-deploys to any contingency area to conduct operations. On order, it will conduct military operations that will engage and destroy an enemy or peacefully perform missions that ensure regional stability in the area of operations.
The nine-month deployment to Europe is a first for this battalion who are relying on this training to gain the familiarity with some of the field conditions they may face when they are called to support their next mission.
«We exist to support the Warfighter», Staruch said of the battalion. They provide cover for ground combatants – the guys on the ground – to achieve their mission.
«We’re looking forward to this exceptional opportunity to work with US Army Europe, our Allies and partners», said Lieutenant Colonel Crotzer.
Lockheed Martin is helping NASA begin the hunt for dark energy, a mysterious force powering the universe’s accelerating expansion. An instrument assembly the company is developing, if selected by NASA for production, will be the core of the primary scientific instrument aboard the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), whose mission aims to uncover hundreds of millions more galaxies and reveal the physics that shapes them.
Scientists and engineers recently began work developing the Wide-Field Optical-Mechanical Assembly (WOMA) for WFIRST, NASA’s newest astrophysics telescope program. WOMA comprises the major portion of scientific components on one of two instruments on the telescope. NASA chose Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto to advance from an earlier study into the formulation phase. WOMA uses similar approaches to the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), which the ATC built as the primary optical instrument for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
«Lockheed Martin scientists achieved groundbreaking results with NIRCam’s precision and sensitivity», said Jeff Vanden Beukel, WOMA program manager at Lockheed Martin. «There’s no time to lose as we support a fast-paced schedule, and our experience with NIRCam’s precision optics positions our WOMA design to be capable, producible and on budget».
Scientists and engineers are collaborating to design optical systems, mechanisms, structure, electronics and thermal control components. Similar to NIRCam, the Wide-Field Instrument on WFIRST will be a powerful optical payload. However, WFIRST will have a massive focal plane array, 200 times larger than NIRCam, to capture what some liken to panoramic images of the star field.
In addition to dark energy research, WOMA will also use microlensing to complete the census of known exoplanets. Microlensing takes advantage of brief distortions in space to reveal new planets around distant stars, and WFIRST’s wide field of view will allow scientists to monitor 200 million stars every 15 minutes for more than a year. When NASA launches WFIRST, it will work in concert with other observatories to jointly research new places and forces in our universe.
NASA plans to select a winning design next year for production, and WFIRST is expected to launch in the mid-2020s.
The AUDS counter-UAS defence system – field proven to detect, track and defeat malicious and errant Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones – is the first fully integrated system worldwide to achieve Technology Readiness Level-9 (TRL-9) status. This follows the successful mission deployment of the Anti-UAV Defence Systems (AUDS) system with United States Forces.
TRL-9 is the very highest technology readiness level or maturity that a technology system can attain. According to the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA definitions, TRL-9 signifies that a technology system or product is in its final form and that the actual system is proven through successful mission operations.
Mark Radford, speaking for the AUDS team, said: «Achieving TRL-9 status is an important milestone for AUDS in the embryonic counter-drone market. The sale and deployment of multiple AUDS systems to the U.S. military to protect critical assets and personnel makes AUDS, we believe, the only TRL-9 rated fully integrated strategic counter-UAS system on the market».
Over the last 18 months, the AUDS system has been heavily evaluated and tested by military and government organizations. Through this process, AUDS consistently exceeded the mission requirements, simultaneously providing ground and air surveillance against possible threats.
The AUDS system – developed by Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems – can detect a drone six miles (10 km) away using electronic scanning radar, track it using precision infrared and daylight cameras and advanced video tracking software before disrupting the flight using a non-kinetic inhibitor to block the radio signals that control it.
This detect, track, defeat process is very quick and typically takes 8-15 secs. Using AUDS, the operator can effectively take control of a drone and force a safe landing. The AUDS system works in all weather, day or night and the disruption is flexible, proportional and operator controlled.
AUDS is positioned at the strategic end of the UAS countermeasures market for use by government agencies, the police and military to protect high value critical national infrastructure or strategically important sites/events. These include nuclear power stations, borders, political, sporting or VIP events, airports and airbases.
AUDS is also currently being evaluated by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use at major U.S. airports as part of its Pathfinder Programme. The FAA has signed a Co-operative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) with Liteye Systems, the AUDS team’s manufacturing and integration partner in North America, to test AUDS at US airports selected by the FAA.
To further consolidate its market leading position, the AUDS team has developed a range of new platforms – fixed, semi-permanent and temporary – to better meet the needs of customers in different markets. These include a platform for the deployment of AUDS to the roof of a building; a field mast system for the protection of semi-permanent sites such as Forward Operating Bases (FOB), air bases or army camps; and a system for rapid deployment purposes.
AUDS will be showcasing its counter-UAS solutions at The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2017), at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 19 to 23 February 2017. AUDS will be represented at IDEX by its local UAE partner Trust International in Hall 11/Stand C05.
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and industry partners demonstrated the flying capabilities of a unique rectangular-shaped quadcopter during a visit from Department of Defense (DoD) officials January 10. Doctor William Roper, director of the Strategic Capabilities Office at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and members of his staff visited the Aberdeen Proving Ground laboratory to see the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle, or JTARV.
Also known as the «hoverbike», the vehicle may one day make it possible for Soldiers on the battlefield to order resupply and then receive those supplies rapidly.
During the visit, Roper told laboratory officials that he is concerned about adapting future technology advances. He said he wants to figure out how to get people to «see something that’s coming on the shelf, immediately identify the use, determine if it’s good enough for rock and roll, get it into the field, but in a way that allows us to keep one-upping it».
Researchers envision a future JTARV flying low to the ground or at thousands of feet at speeds of 60 miles per hour/96 kilometers per hour or more. «Anywhere on the battlefield, Soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes», said Tim Vong, associate chief of ARL’s Protection Division. He likened the concept to «Amazon on the battlefield». «We want to have options like that», Vong said.
While the current prototype is electric, researchers are looking at a hybrid propulsion system that could dramatically increase range. «We’re exploring increasing payload capacity to 800 pounds/363 kg and extending the range up to 125 miles/201 km», Vong said. «We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions».
The laboratory began exploring the JTARV concept in the summer of 2014. They identified a manufacturer, Malloy Aeronautics, and a systems integrator, SURVICE, entered into a contract and moved quickly from concept to full-scale prototypes.
The JTARV is now a joint effort with the Marine Corps, led by Army researchers, at the Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey; however, the ARL researchers still serve as subject matter experts on aeromechanics, assessment, analysis, propulsion, intelligence and controls and materials and structures.
«The project is successful because we went from concept development to engineering evaluation in collaboration with all various government agencies and industry», explained Ernesto Garcia Lopez, ARDEC. «The demo we saw was a unique opportunity for us to show a seamless transition between one Army organization and another Army organization and having the industry along the whole time», he said.
In addition to other industry, government and academic partners, the JTARV project is teaming with the Office of Naval Research. «Researchers hope to demonstrate full autonomy in the near future», Vong said.
«I think the visit was a great success», Vong said. «It gave us an opportunity to showcase to Dr. Roper ideas and also the progress we’ve been making in exploiting commercial UAS technologies».
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 3 satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 January 20 at 7:42 p.m. ET. SBIRS GEO Flight 3 is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs.
«ULA is proud to deliver this critical satellite which will improve surveillance capabilities for our national decision makers», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year».
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter Large Payload Fairing (LPF). The Atlas V booster propulsion for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.
«The Atlas V 401 configuration has become the workhorse of the Atlas V fleet, delivering half of all Atlas V missions to date», said Maginnis. «ULA understands that even with the most reliable launch vehicles, our sustained mission success is only made possible with seamless integration between our customer and our world class ULA team».
The Space Based Infrared System is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.
This is ULA’s first launch of 11 planned launches in 2017 and the 116th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. ULA’s next East Coast launch is the Delta IV WGS-9 satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The launch is scheduled for March 8 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 115 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, and enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.
Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 3 Launch Highlights
Space Based Infrared System
Reliable, unambiguous, timely and accurate warning for theater and strategic missile launches.
Delivery of critical information supporting the effective operation of missile defense systems.
Ability to characterize infrared (IR) event signatures, phenomenology and threat performance data.
Delivery of comprehensive IR data to help characterize battlespace conditions.
Atlas V 401
Payload Fairing (PLF):
The SBIRS satellite is encapsulated in the 14-foot/4-meter diameter large payload fairing (LPF). The LPF is a bisector (two-piece shell) fairing consisting of aluminum skin/stringer construction with vertical split-line longerons. The vehicle’s height with the LPF is approximately 194 feet/59 meters.
The Centaur second stage is 10 feet/3 m in diameter and 41.5 feet/12.65 m long. Its propellant tanks are constructed of pressure-stabilized, corrosion resistant stainless steel. Centaur is a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-(cryogenic-) fueled vehicle. It uses a single RL10C-1 engine producing 22,900 lbs/10,387 kg of thrust. The cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of helium-purged insulation blankets, radiation shields, and Spray-On Foam Insulation (SOFI). The Centaur Forward Adapter (CFA) provides the structural mountings for the fault-tolerant avionics system and the structural and electronic interfaces with the spacecraft.
The Atlas V booster is 12.5 feet/3.8 m in diameter and 106.5 feet/32.46 m long. The booster’s tanks are structurally stable and constructed of isogrid aluminum barrels, spun-formed aluminum domes and intertank skirts. Atlas booster propulsion is provided by the RD-180 engine system (a single engine with two thrust chambers). The RD-180 burns RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1 or highly purified kerosene) and liquid oxygen, and delivers 860,200 lbs/390,180 kg of thrust at sea level. The Atlas V booster is controlled by the Centaur avionics system which provides guidance, flight control and vehicle sequencing functions during the booster and Centaur phases of flight.